Issue No. 38
— December 2017






Digital trend publication
blending a mix of culture,
insights and data.

A trend product by

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The holidays always end up being a mad rush for brands. You prep for your big sales, your 'last day for UPS shipping' emails, and get all of your mailers out. You plan and execute all the way up until the 24th and then.... you get a breather. Well, expect for the fact that Q1 is in a week and the whole year is about to start over again. The wheel isn't ever going to stop and give you time to get better, you're just going to have to find it.


We make our creative process issue every December because we think it is the perfect time to start switching things up. With some new ideas and approaches now, you can start 2018 off in a totally different creative space than you were even a month before. Read these articles, get some tips (or disagree with some tips even), and start switching up your process. 



Micah Heykoop

Contributing Editor




Editor's Letter


"Solitude is creativity's best friend, and solitude is refreshment for our souls."


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Dig into the issue by clicking on the links below.



Keep To Yourself: The Process of Creating Products in a Crowded Space

How do brands stand out in a space that is over-saturated? One beauty industry vet gives us his tips for staying original and ahead of the crowd.


 — Garrett Markenson, Hairdresser and Founder of GM Reverie



5 Creative Practices that Earn Attention without asking for it

Most brands create things that beg for your attention, great brands create things that force you to pay attention without asking for it. This article shares five creative practices that can help brands get it right.


— Alex Tan, Photographer, Art Director and Writer



#letstalktaste: A Slack Conversation between 3 creatives

Our Editor-in-Chief Chelsea Matthews invites two of her favorite creatives - one a photographer, the other a designer - to a Slack chat where things get real around the conversation of 'taste.'


— Puno Dostres, Chelsea Matthews and Grant Legan



No Time For Process

For a lot of us, the creative process is limited by time. Multiple projects, client deadlines, other priorities. So, what does the creative process look like when there isn't time for one?


— Micah Heykoop, Director of Operations at Matte Black






Photographer and Art Director Kourtney Jackson Smith

See work by Kourtney Jackson Smith, Los Angeles based photographer and art director at Matte Black.



Tools to assist the Creative Process

Eight creatives share the tools that they use to help improve and assist the creative process.








Branding Like a Boss with Chelsea Sonsken of Bossladies

Let's discuss values - specifically, brand values. Building these are easy, but how does one make sure to include them throughout the brand on the daily? Tune in as we chat with Chelsea Sonksen of Bossladies about translating brand values into the business, and cultivating a community that stands behind them.





"No other art form is able to fix time as cinema does. Therefore, what is cinema? It's a mosaic made with time." 


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See what the Shape Shift Report team dug up this month!




if you're happy and you know it, take a selfie

The phenomenon of museums opening as a destination not for the art on the walls, but for the Instagramable installations continue to sprout up around LA. If you’ve visited the Museum of Ice Cream and had to shake sprinkles out of your hair for days, you know what I’m talking about. 


Artists are shifting the perspective of their art from being something you observe to something you're apart of. In today’s world of lives being lived on social platforms and ‘experiences’ being desirable for how Instagram-worthy they are, it’s not a shock that more art is being created that’s goal is to include the viewer. 


The newest museum in this vein is "Happy Place”, which opened its doors last week in DTLA’s Arts District. This Pop-Up experience is rooted in the belief that the world can use a lot more happiness, which it truly could. “Happy People” guide you from room to room to dance in the world’s largest confetti dome and jump off a rainbow into a 'pot of happiness’. One look at its Instagram feed and its immediately clear that each of these rooms and experiences are designed with the perfect selfie in mind. 


As our society continues to shift, and the art and experiences that are appreciated are the ones that are the most shareable, how will art evolve? It seems that the new modern art is that in which the artist has created negative space waiting for you to hop in to capture the perfect shot for your feed.  



— Chase Coleman, Integrated Marketing Manager at Matte Black




Summer two thousand and seventeen. We leaned into it.

"The price of bitcoin keeps rising - it just recently crossed $10,000. I remember the a friend of mine bought one for around $250 in early 2015. The price has fluctuated in the years since, and one year ago was around $750. It has doubled from $5,000 in the past two months. Is this digital currency the next gold - a place to store your wealth outside of banks and governmentally regulated markets? Or is this a bubble that will eventually pop? I’m unsure, but it is a fascinating ride watching the price soar." 


— Jonathan Godino, Project Manager at Matte Black





Many of us are familiar with crowdfunding. I may have spammed you with my own campaigns in the past. As I wrapped my most recent, I began considering why each new project feels like I'm creating a new start up from scratch. Would it not be more beneficial to continue to feed and build a singular brand or creative community, rather than starting over again, with new social handles, email lists, and launches, each time I have a new story to tell? 


The leader of the crowdfunding pack, Kickstarter, has now unveiled it's latest tool for creators, Drip, and it seems to answer this quandary, as the crowd can now support individual creators on an ongoing basis. While not unlike Patreon, Kickstarter seems to get things really right, especially for creatives (I've highlighted their digital editorial The Creative Independent previously).


Now, creators will have to decide what value they can offer their community of supporters on an ongoing basis. It's something I'll be trying to crack myself. Read about it here.


— Nolan Goff, Creative Director



“The creative process is a process of surrender, not control.”  

—Julia Cameron

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Chelsea Matthews


Managing Editor
Delanie Billman


Contributing Editor
Micah Heykoop


Aria Davis


Creative Director

Nolan Goff




Kourtney Jackson Smith





Garrett Markenson

Garrett is a hairdresser, salon owner, and founder of haircare brand GM Reverie. He currently lives in Santa Clarita with his wife Hillary, son Ellis, and dogs Lux and Kingsley. Lover of music, typography, travel and wine.


Drink of choice: Brunch and aperitif  - Aperal Spritz, lunch - House Bear, Dinner - Scribe Wine, Night Cap - Amaro Nonino

Author to read: Franz Lebowitz and Milan Kundera

Something to check off your bucket list: Finishing NYC Marathon last year

Last item purchased: BlockShop art print

City to escape to: Forever Florence, Italy

Alexander Tan_The Creative Process Issue_Shape Shift Report_Matte Black

Alex Tan

Alex is a photographer, art director, and writer based in Los Angeles. Between freelance content creation and time spent within advertising agencies, Alex is best known for tailoring beautiful content to exceed client expectations while simultaneously building meaningful connections to targeted audiences. He also co-hosts the MOUTHWASH Podcast, sharing stories from the best in the creative industry. Follow him on Instagram @jalexandertan.


Early bird or night owl: 100% early bird, it's difficult for me to stay up past midnight.

Three things that get my creative juices flowing: Reading or hearing other people's stories, traveling somewhere new, writing my thoughts down

Justice for: Domestic homeless population

Guilty pleasure: Overpriced juice

Victory Song: Icon by Jaden Smith


Kourtney Jackson Smith

Kourtney is an art director, photographer and art history enthusiast living in Northeast Los Angeles. She studied fine art at Biola University. She is interested in the juxtaposition of the ephemeral and the permanent and how the image can make a fleeting moment permanent.


Most inspiring city: Marseille

Night in or night out: Night close to home

Spirit animal: My husky, Indigo

Childhood comfort: Celine Dion

Guilty pleasure: taking baths


Micah Heykoop

Micah Heykoop is the Director of Operations at Matte Black and a noted 'cat person.'


Drink of choice: Anything but white wine

Next vacation: Italy! 

Secret talent: 7 out of 10 juggler
Go-to pizza toppings: Pepperoni / red onion / green pepper / Cherry tomatoes (I'm looking at your Pieology) 
Crime to commit: Inciting a riot. Because that's the hood rat stuff we all want to do with our friends.